Spot the Trend Before it Happens: The Black Swan Theory

I cannot remember if I wrote about the Black Swan Theory before, so if I did, my loyal readers, bear with me.

Like I’ve said before, I love to dabble in behavioral economics. It fascinates me. Perhaps it is the symmetry it has with consumer behavior. Or the way it combines data with behavior and economics that really tickles me. In any case, the black swan theory has an particular use for marketers and communicators: predicting trends.

The theory suggests that there are little, barely noticeable events that happen, and multiply that then create  seemingly unpredictable HUGE events (i.e. the Great Depression, the .Com bubble burst, the Great Recession, Reality TV).

So how does that apply to marketing and communicators? Let’s take the rise of social media and apply gradual, seemingly unrelated events together and see where the relevance lies.

The Events:
-The rise of divorce in the U.S.
-The increase of work hours a week
-The rising price of gas
-The rise of U.S. Suburbia

The Effects:

– Large base of single, dating, and/or bored people
-Working more, more time on the computer, less time interacting with people, family
-Increased demand for real-time results and faster information flow
-Less traveling via car/plane
-Less concentrated business areas

With putting those events and effects together, is it then a real surprise that social media became so big? With interaction with people becoming more difficult, our society is brilliant enough to create easier, faster ways to communicate.

Now let’s apply this Black Swan theory. What is the next big event? What are the little events happening? Here is my opinion:

Trends to watch:
-Dependence on social networks
-Shift from fossil fuels
-Emphasis on local/community buildup
-Rebirth of “youthful” cities
-Federal Government expansion
-Corporate independence
-Fed funding of small business
-Death of Big Business Banking

Black Swan Event Predictions-
-U.S. electric grid short-circuiting
-National community “cliques”
-Corporate Communities (i.e. instead of “Google”, think “Google Charlotte”, or “Google- Carolina”)
-A network of Community Banks…richer communities

What does this mode of thinking show? It demonstrates that there is always a cause and effect. We as communicators must be vigilant in watching these little events, so we don’t miss (or perhaps prevent) any black swans from happening.

3 thoughts on “Spot the Trend Before it Happens: The Black Swan Theory

  1. You’ve got a nice observation here. I will also try to make some observations, maybe I can stumble an incoming trend. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Back to Business Basics: Bartering « New Age Marketing

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